SANTA BARBARA: Three Nonprofit Clinics Merge
Three Santa Barbara-area nonprofit health clinics that serve poor and uninsured residents are planning to "pool their resources" in an effort to stay afloat amid "increasing operating costs" and declining grant support. The Westside Neighborhood Medical Clinic, the Carrillo Community Medical and Dental Clinic and the Isla Vista Health Projects will join forces to become the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, the Santa Barbara News-Press reports. The three-clinic network will operate on a combined annual budget of $1.5 million. "This merger is a positive step for Santa Barbara to do something about its uninsured people," said Kathleen Rodriguez, interim vice chair of the new entity. Westside administrator Stu Rubinstein, whose clinic "struggled to overcome a $100,000 debt over the past year," said the clinics' financial strain prompted the merger talks. "We struggle to make payroll week to week," he said. The three clinics have formed a board of directors comprised "of three representatives from each clinic and four community residents."
Good For All
Clinic administrators predict that the merger will create "more clout" for the clinics and prove "helpful when lobbying lawmakers on medical issues or seeking fresh grants." Interim chair Reilly Pollard said, "Funding agencies like to see cooperative groups." In addition, officials noted that the arrangement will reduce costs by facilitating bulk medical supply purchases and streamlining administrative operations. Further, "the partners will be able to share information and the expertise of staff members more easily" as each clinic "deals heavily" in different areas -- Westside in HIV testing and women's health, Isla Vista in drug rehabilitation and Carrillo Community in pediatrics. The new organization expects to receive "approval of its application for tax-exempt status" by January. The three clinics will keep their names "for the time being." "It will be a couple of years before we're known jointly," said Rubinstein (Schultz, 10/14).